This is a tale of the other Miss Everdeen, Miss Bathsheba Everdeen rather than Katniss. This sprawling period drama is gorgeously shot and is full of angst and misfortune, ending in, well, you’ll have to read the Thomas Hardy book or see the film to find out.
What this comes down to is whether your not you like Hardy and/or period pieces from this era. Honestly, they are a hard sell for me. Despite some excellent craft in the film, I was left with a middling feeling about the result. Carey Mulligan (An Education) is one of my favorite actors and doesn’t disappoint here in her ability, though her character is a little uneven. Michael Sheen (Passengers) and Martin Schoenaerts (A Bigger Splash) are no schlocks either. Tom Sturridge (Pirate Radio), on the other hand, was a miss for me. The bad guy just shouldn’t look like a weasel when he steps onto screen from the start. Seriously, that is no spoiler, you can’t miss it.
But this story is set in a period and about a set of mores for which I have little patience, particularly when they are played into rather than played against. And, despite the strong female character Mulligan begins with, she devolves in ways I cannot find it in myself to forgive; and, certainly, Nicholls’s thin script did little to provide the foundation for much of that. Director Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) did what he could, but it often fell short on motivation and believability for me.
On the other hand, the cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Fences) and the costumes by Janet Patterson are brilliant. Both won awards for their work in this film (and others).
So, if you’re looking for period romance, you could do worse. If you’re looking for a great and satisfying film, you could do better.